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St. Charbel mosaic blessed by Pope Francis installed in Vatican grottoes

Pope Francis blesses a mosaic of St. Charbel after his general audience Nov. 15, 2023, in St. Peter’s Square. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Jan 19, 2024 / 18:30 pm (CNA).

A mosaic of St. Charbel blessed by Pope Francis was installed this morning in the Vatican grottoes located beneath St. Peter’s Basilica.

On Jan. 19, the vicar general of His Holiness for the Vatican City State and archpriest of the Vatican basilica, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, participated in placing the framed mosaic in the grotto where the papal tombs are located.

After the installation of the mosaic, attended by Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, a Maronite-rite Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Hungarian chapel of the Vatican crypt by the Maronite patriarchal vicar to the Holy See, Bishop Rafik Warsha.

The image of the Lebanese saint, who is revered in both East and West, was blessed by Pope Francis after the Nov. 15, 2023, general audience and was hung next to the tomb of St. Paul VI, the pontiff who declared him a saint on Oct. 9, 1977.

This initiative was promoted by the Lebanese ambassador to the Holy See, Farid Elias Khazen, who explained to ACI Mena, CNA’s Arabic-language news partner, that the project was conceived a few years ago but it had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Khazen said the mosaic was made in the Fabric of St. Peter, an institution that maintains the basilica.

“Cardenal Gambetti agreed to continue working on the project and decided that it would be the last mosaic placed in the basilica,” he noted.

For Khazen, “it’s an event that happens once in history,” and because of it, “there is a Lebanese presence within the basilica.”

Devotion to St. Charbel has spread within Lebanon but also beyond, including to very distant countries with very different cultures. There is particularly strong devotion to the saint in Mexico and other parts of South America.

Devotion to the saint in Mexico is largely due to Maronite immigration to the country, which began in the 19th century, as well as the increase in miracles attributed to the intercession of the Lebanese saint.

Coinciding with this event at the Vatican, the bells of Maronite churches in Lebanon rang this morning for five minutes and a Divine Liturgy was also celebrated at the saint’s tomb, located in St. Maron monastery in Lebanon.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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